Practicing for emergencies: Blount Memorial drill looks to prepare hospital staff

Blount Memorial clinical staff triage mock patients in the emergency department on Wednesday, April 6, during a regional hospital drill.

Blount Memorial clinical staff triage mock patients in the emergency department on Wednesday, April 6, during a regional hospital drill.

Blount Memorial emergency medicine physician Dr. Ron Franz, left, talks with licensed practical nurse Marcus Sheppard and patient care coordinator Kim Kagley about the care of a mock patient during an area hospital drill on Wednesday, April 6.

Blount Memorial emergency medicine physician Dr. Ron Franz, left, talks with licensed practical nurse Marcus Sheppard and patient care coordinator Kim Kagley about the care of a mock patient during an area hospital drill on Wednesday, April 6.

South Doyle students, playing the part of patients during the drill, wait to be triaged upon arriving at Blount Memorial Hospital. A total of 41 South Doyle High School health occupations students role-played as ‘patients’ which helps provide responding staff with a realistic situation.

South Doyle students, playing the part of patients during the drill, wait to be triaged upon arriving at Blount Memorial Hospital. A total of 41 South Doyle High School health occupations students role-played as ‘patients’ which helps provide responding staff with a realistic situation.

Blount Memorial Hospital wants their staff to be ready for things they can’t even predict. The hospital is required to have two emergency preparedness drills each year to help prepare hospital staff to deal with large-scale emergency situations.

The recent drill on Wednesday, April 6, featured exercises designed to simulate major emergencies. The drill was coordinated by the emergency preparedness department of the Knox County Health Department. In addition to Blount Memorial Hospital, all Knoxville-area hospitals also participated.

Hospital personnel say early feedback from observers, as well as participants, indicate that at Blount Memorial, “we tested and met all regional hospital objectives set for the drill.”

In addition, the drill gave the hospital the ability to enact the labor pool, which consolidates all available personnel and available resources in one central area.

The drill included three scenarios: patients being brought to East Tennessee after an earthquake in the western part of the state; a shooting at a Knoxville hospital that diverted trauma patients to other area hospitals; and a bus accident.

“We participate in drills to be able to better serve the community when an actual event happens,” said Blount Memorial safety director Carole Chambers. “Blount Memorial does bring in extra staff to participate in drills to make sure that we’re giving our current patients the individualized care that they and their families need.”

Community partners also took part in the drill, including Rural/Metro Ambulance, the Blount County Emergency Management Agency, the Maryville Police and Fire Departments and the Blount County Sheriff’s Office.

“Having the participation of those community partners makes the drills much more effective,” said Chambers. “In addition, a total of 41 South Doyle High School health occupations students also role-played as ‘patients’ which helps provide our responding staff with a realistic situation.”

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